War of the Rebellion: Serial 080 Page 0298 OPERATIONS IN SE.VA. AND N.C. Chapter LII.

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Ferry with the pontoon trains and collect sufficient material to bridge the river. I immediately sent orders for all the pontoon trains to concentrate at Cole's Ferry, and proceeded at once to the latter place in person. There I found that Captain Personius had arrived about 8 a.m. with his pontoon train, and had built a wharf of boats on each side of the river and a large pontoon raft, on which he was passing bearers of dispatches, small squads of cavalry, and occasionally wagons. I found also that the width of the river was such that with all our pontoon material we could not span the river without extensive timber and corduroy approaches. Captain Peirce was then making preparations to build this timber approach of about 250 feet in length on the north shore with the aid of several hundred colored troops. Major Beers arrived with his bridge material. In the mean time, and while waiting the completion of the timber approach, Captain Personius was engaged with his men in making up rafts of four boats each, with material on each for making the connection. Major Ford started from Charles City Court-House about noon, having been detained about an hour after he received the order to proceed to the Chickahominy for the purpose of repairing a couple of boats damaged at the last bridge. He had then about twelve miles to march, and reported to me at the south bank of the river at 5 p.m. This brought all the land pontoons of the army to this point, except the train of eight canvas boats, which Captain Folwell had with General Sheridan. While Captain McDonald was preparing the south abutment and building his portion of bridge by successive pontoons, Major Ford, with Company D (Captain Pettes) and a detail of 300 colored troops, laid the approach across the marsh, a heavy piece of raised corduroy about 200 feet in length. After Captain McDonald had built in all his wooden pontoons, Captain Van Brocklin followed with his eight canvas boats. About dark Captain Personius commenced putting in the bridge the rafts made from the trains on the north shore. After these had been all built in, Lieutenant Folwell followed with his train of eight canvas boats. When all the boats had been built in from each shore the bridge did not meet in the center by about thirty feet. The bridge was then detached from the north shore, connected in the center, and the approach on the north shore extended by the construction of additional cribs and corduroy. This caused considerable delay in the completion of the bridge, but it was finally ready for use about three hours after midnight. On account of the scarcity of material for the width of the river, the canvas portion of the bridge was built in long spans with a few additional balks, and though a bridge built in this way is apparently very frail, all the supply trains of the army, 2,800 head of cattle, and a division of troops crossed this bridge without delay and without accident to the bridge. The total length of the bridge was 1,240 feet, and of the timber and corduroy approaches about 450.

June 15, leaving Major Beers in command at Cole's Ferry, I proceeded to headquarters of the army at Charles City Court-House, and thence accompanied headquarters to Fort Powhatan on the James River. Thence I sent directions to Major Beers to send all the wagons and transportation by land to the south side of the James River at Fort Powhatan in charge of Captain Dexter, with Company L and part of I as a guard, make preparations to arrange his bridge in rafts as soon as the rear guard in charge of the supply trains should have crossed the river, and bring all his bridge material around by water in tow of a steamer that would be ordered to report to him. At daylight on the